From Prodigal God to Wild and Wise Man

The men’s prayer group that I’m a part of finished “Prodigal God,” by Tim Keller and is now reading “From Wild Man to Wise Man,” by Richard Rohr.  The switch from a Protestant theological book to a Catholic pastoral book has its challenges, but I think the Holy Spirit is with us.  My discernment could be wrong, but I see an emerging “picture” of what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us.

From “Prodigal God,” we were shaken from our comfort zones.  It made us see that we were the “elder brothers” in the parable, comfortable in our faith, secure in our own righteousness.  We realized that “if [we] have not grasped the gospel fully and deeply, [we] will return to being condescending, condemning, anxious, insecure, joyless, and angry all the time” (Chapter 4, page 70).  We learned from Tim Keller that the parable of the prodigal son was not primarily to assure “younger brothers” of God’s unconditional love.  It was a warning to moral insiders: “we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right” (Chapter 5, page 78).  The true elder brother is Christ.  We need to go through our own crucifixion, die to our self so that Christ can work through us.  Then, we can answer the question, “Well, who should have gone out and searched for the lost son?” (page 80); the answer would be “Christ through me.”

“The Prodigal God,” by Timothy Keller

Keller’s book left us asking for more.  How can we become more like Christ?  How can we die to our self and let Him live through us?  The Holy Spirit helped us vote for Richard Rohr’s book.

While nearly everyone in the men’s group only has negative things to say about Rohr’s book, we all agree that the conversation is very enlightening.  Again, I could be wrong, but I think that’s a sign that the Holy Spirit is with us.  How can so much disagreement be productive?  How can so many men’s egos be kept in check if not for the Holy Spirit giving us the grace to be humble?  It’s Emmanuel, “God is with us.”

Putting aside the poor writing style and weak Scriptural references, “From Wild Man to Wise Man” is already leading us on the male spiritual journey it purports to do.  Just this past Saturday, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning with a personal revelation about my journey.  Another man in the group is currently a lot closer to God because the Holy Spirit is making him face a mental anguish that he would rather avoid.  The first ten chapters of the book led our rag-tag group of men to a precipice.  Whether we decide to jump and experience the frightening fall to self-awareness is our choice.  But it’s certainly exciting to see the Holy Spirit working among us!

“From Wild Man to Wise Man,” by Richard Rohr

Repent from Your Good Works

Kunsthistorisches Museum
Prodigal Son (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was at a men’s bible study again this evening.  We’re diving deep into the story of the Prodigal Son.

Most people don’t realize, myself included, that the story was really a warning to the people who obey God’s rules diligently: “There are two ways to be your own Savior and Lord.  One is by breaking all the moral laws and setting your own course, and one is by keeping all the moral laws and being very, very good.”

Even a man who has violated nothing on the list of moral misbehaviors can be every bit as spiritually lost as the most profligate, immoral person.  Why?  Because sin is not just breaking the rules, it is putting yourself in the place of God as Savior, Lord, and Judge just as each son in the parable sought to displace the authority of the father in his own life.

%d bloggers like this: